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"Consent of the governed": a contradiction in terms (Larken Rose)

This post is an excerpt from Larken Rose's new book,The Most Dangerous Superstition Reprinted with permission of the author. (I would l♥ve to say that Larken "authorized" this reprint, but the whole thesis of his book is that "authority" is "the most dangerous superstition," and he'd likely hunt me down & carry on cranky. Great book.

"The Myth of Consent" (TMDS pp. 15-17)
There are two basic ways in which people can interact: by mutual agreement, or by one person using threats or violence to force his will upon another. The first can be labeled "consent" -- both sides willingly and voluntarily agreeing to what is to be done. The second can be labeled "governing" -- one person controlling another. Since these two -- consent and governing -- are opposites, the concept of "consent of the governed" is a contradiction. If there is mutual consent, it is not "government"; if there is governing, there is no consent. Some will claim that a majority, or the people as a whole, have given their consent to be ruled, even if many individuals have not. But such an argument turns the concept of consent on its head. No one, individually or as a group, can give consent for something to be done to someone else. That is simply not what "consent" means. It defies logic to say, "I give my consent for you to be robbed." Yet that is the basis of the cult of "democracy": the notion that a majority can give consent on behalf of a minority. That is not "consent of the governed"; it is forcible control of the governed, with the "consent" of a third party.

Even if someone were silly enough to actually tell someone else, "I agree to let you forcibly control me," the moment the controller must force the "controllee" to do something, there is obviously no longer "consent." Prior to that moment, there is no "governing" -- only voluntary cooperation. Expressing the concept more precisely exposes its inherent schizophrenia: "I agree to let you force things upon me, whether I agree to them or not."

But in reality, no one ever agrees to let those in "government" do whatever they want. So, in order to fabricate "consent" where there is none, believers in "authority" add another, even more bizarre step to the mythology: the notion of "implied consent." The claim is that, by merely living in a town, or a state, or a country, one is "agreeing" to abide by whatever rules happen to be issued by the people who claim to have the right to rule that town, state or country. The idea is that if someone does not like the rules, he is free to leave the town, state or country altogether, and if he chooses not to leave, that constitutes giving his consent to be controlled by the rulers of that jurisdiction.

Though it is constantly parroted as gospel, the idea defies common sense. It makes no more sense than a carjacker stopping a driver on a Sunday and telling him,"By driving a car in this neighborhood on a Sunday, you are agreeing to give me your car." One person obviously cannot decide what counts as someone else "agreeing" to something. An agreement is when two or more people communicate a mutual willingness to enter into some arrangement. Simply being born somewhere is not agreeing to anything, nor is living in one's own house when some king or politician has declared it to be within the realm he rules. It is one thing for someone to say, "if you want to ride in my car, you may not smoke," or "You can come into my house only if you take your shoes off." It is quite another to try to tell other people what they can do on their own property. Whoever has the right to make the rules for a particular place is, by definition, the owner of that place. That is the basis of the idea of private property: that there can be an "owner" who has the exclusive right to decide what is done with and on that property. The owner of a house has the right to keep others out of it and, by extension, the right to tell visitors what they can and cannot do as long as they are in the house.

And that sheds some light on the underlying assumption behind the idea of implied consent. To tell someone that his only valid choices are either to leave the "country" or to abide by whatever commands the politicians issue, logically implies that everything in the "country" is the property of the politicians. If a person can spend year after year paying for his home, or even building it himself, and his choices are still to either obey the politicians or get out, that means that his house and the time and effort he invested in the house are the property of the politicians. And for one person's time and effort to rightfully belong to another is the definition of slavery. That is exactly what the "implied consent" theory means: that every "country" is a huge slave plantation, and that everything and everyone there is the property of the politicians. And, of course, the master does not need the consent of his slave.

UPDATE: I've posted a second excerpt from The Most Dangerous Superstition here on another thread.

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"I have to go."

Richardson looks like an overfed cockroach scurrying out of the light. Good video

Dr. Paul seems to be getting more radical. Wonder if we can get him to read TMDS? Gotta work on that. I've gifted Mike Nystrom with a copy of the book, in which he expressed interest. No luck with Lew Rockwell, though.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

I love that video

I pass that around to everyone I can. If you witness someone watch it for the first time that is not quite awake you can actually see the gears stop and sputter then restart.

Spooner on Consent

Abraham Lincoln did not cause the death of so many people from a mere love of slaughter, but only to bring about a state of consent that could not otherwise be secured for the government he had undertaken to administer. When a government has once reduced its people to a state of consent, that is of submission to its will, it can put them to a much better use than to kill them; for it can then plunder them, enslave them, and use them as tools for plundering and enslaving others. And these are the uses to which most governments, our own among the rest, do put their people, whenever they have once reduced them to a state of consent to its will. Andrew Jackson said that those who did not consent to the government he attempted to administer upon them, for that reason, were traitors, and ought to be hanged. Like so many other so-called "heroes," he thought the sword and the gallows excellent instrumentalities for securing the people's consent to be governed. The idea that, although government should rest on the consent of the governed, yet so much force may nevertheless be employed as may be necessary to produce that consent, embodies everything that was ever exhibited in the shape of usurpation and tyranny in any country on earth. It has cost this country a million of lives, and the loss of everything that resembles political liberty. It can have no place except as a part of a system of absolute military despotism. And it means nothing else either in this country, or in any other. There is no half-way house between a government depending wholly on voluntary support, and one depending wholly on military compulsion. And mankind have only to choose between these two classes—the class that governs, and the class that is governed or enslaved. In this case, the government rests wholly on the consent of the governors, and not at all on the consent of the governed. And whether the governors are more or less numerous than the governed, and whether they call themselves monarchists, aristocrats, or republicans, the principle is the same. The simple, and only material fact, in all cases, is, that one body of men are robbing and enslaving another. And it is only upon military compulsion that men will submit to be robbed and enslaved, it necessarily follows that any government, to which the governed, the weaker party, do not consent, must be (in regard to that weaker party), a merely military despotism. Such is the state of things now in this country, and in every other in which government does not depend wholly upon voluntary support. There never was and there never will be, a more gross, self-evident, and inexcusable violation of the principle that government should rest on the consent of the governed, than was the late war, as carried on by the North. There never was, and there never will be, a more palpable case of purely military despotism than is the government we now have.

—Lysander Spooner.

Spooner got one thing wrong.

He wrote:

"it is only upon military compulsion that men will submit to be robbed and enslaved"

Unhappily, most people believe they need an "authority," to rule them.  They will submit to being robbed and enslaved whenever they accept the myth of "rightful authority" or  that "government is necessary."

It isn't military compulsion that enslaves us and causes most of the evil and misery in the world; it's the superstition that some men have the moral right to rule others, and that we all have a moral duty to obey whatever "laws" are inflicted on us by those rightful-rulers.  It is our own beliefs that enslave us.

This is "the most dangerous superstition" (as Rose titled his book), and until it becomes widely recognized as such, liberty has no future in our world.  The  political game of begging our rulers not to hit us so hard or so often can never be won.  Replacing one ruler with another will never set us free.  We will be free when we realize that we own ourselves: we are not the politicians' rightful property, and they are not our rightful rulers.  They are a gang of thugs, and nothing more.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

I think you have to put

that statement in the context of his time.

Nope. Wrong is wrong.

The superstition of "rightful rulers" is thousands of years old.  The framers of the Constitution were infected with it.  The whole freaking world is infected with it.

 People of Spooner's day suffered a particularly blatant form of imposed tyranny, but few of them shared his anarchistic rejection of all governmental authority.  Most merely wanted to choose a different governmental authority, run by tyrants of their own choosing.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Maybe half wrong.

To many submission to the state is "self preservation". If you weren't awake at the age of 10 you are probably invested in the system. What good am I to my son if I am in prison for not paying my taxes? So for me it is "fear" of the police state. The best I can do, at this time - circumstances may change, is educate myself and educate him so he is aware and can choose his own direction later in life.

In Spooners time there was no IRS, FBI, ATF, it was the military. But I see your point many have been duped to believe they need to be ruled.

PS you should clean up your Santa Clause piece and start it's own thread.

Nope again. Still wrong.

Spooner's definition of "consent" is just stupid.  "Submission" to a threat of force is not "consent."  If I stick a gun in your face, demand your wallet, and you give it to me, have you "consented" to be robbed?  I don't think so.   Larken Rose got it right: consent is mutual agreement.  And that's the opposite of "being governed." 

Thanks for taking notice of my Rights are Santa Claus post.  I've actually posted it three times, once on its own thread,  where it sank without a ripple.  It really ought to have been a blog post, but I don't know how Michael decides who to give that privilege to.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Ok I got you

consent is entirely the wrong word.

Update on "Rights are Santa Claus"

I originally wrote the piece as part of a letter to Ed Griffin, criticizing his defense of "rights" in his mostly excellent essay "The Chasm: Two Ethics that Divide the Western World." I've also shown it to Larken Rose, for the same reasons. Neither one of them disagreed with the essay. What's going on here? Does everyone in the "liberty" movement secretly believe that the idea of "human rights" is a crock of crap, but continues using it because everybody else expects it?? I guess I am going to send it in to Nolan Chart and/or Strike the Root, and see what happens.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Wow! Andrew Jackson just was

kicked off the pedestal in my mind! Have we ever had a decent president?

(BTW, Zerofiction, I really appreciate the enlightening ideas and wisdom you often post)

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

Have we ever had a decent president?

Probably the closest thing to a decent President was William Henry Harrison, our ninth President.  He did no harm -- which is more than one can say for any of the others.   He had the grace to die after just 3 months in office. 

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

That is flattering...

But I am just a student.

Here is a great resource;

Jackson did kill the bank. But yes he was a tyrant. His treatment of Native Americans was horrific I hear.

I believe I read the same thing ....

and also that he believed that those who opposed the Government should be tried as traitors! (I guess he didn't have much regard for the Bill of Rights, did he?)

Ron Paul has endorsed a book called Recarving Mount Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland. I have not had the opportunity to read it, but would sure like to.

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

The founders

did not write into the Constitution the term Implied Concent because the only authority the FED GOV't has is specified in the Constitution.

"Implied consent" runs COUNTER to the very IDEA of the Constitution. If it is NOT spelled out in the Constitution then it falls to the several STATES, or individuals themselves.

Nothing was "impied" except that which is specified.
ANYthing otherwise makes the very term "Consent" irrelevant and therefore the Constitution would become a worthless piece of paper,a BLANK sheet.
"Nothing" would have needed writting down, or Concented to. The States would have had nothing to put to Form or to put on paper.

The Constitution IS the boundery and confines of the FED GOV't. PERIOD.

This is also WHY there is an Amendment process. Amendments do away with the use of "implied concent".
You want CHANGE, YOU write it down and VOTE on it.
However, Individual LIBERTY superceeds it all.
The Declaration of Independance and the Bill of Rights was NEVER repealed.

This is where the statement, "IF you can keep it" comes into play. CAN YOU?

We need a "safe word."

We need a "safe word."

Ĵīɣȩ Ɖåđşŏń

"Fully half the quotations found on the internet are either mis-attributed, or outright fabrications." - Abraham Lincoln


Please elucidate.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

This explains NOTHING with respect to America.

The consent of the governed in these United States has to do with allowing ourselves to be governed by, for, and through the Constitution. NOT governed by individuals or individual or Majority. We are governed by consent to the Constitution. PERIOD.
The Constitution was written to ENFORCE or reinforce the single individual and that sovergnty.

Therefore, we consent to give each other, individual rule over our single respective life. So that no one is governed by anyone, but is governed buy Law agreed upon at the outset.

The MAJORITY, or as you state, those who would call themselves rulers can be overuled and can only go as far as the Consent agreed to, (the Constitution) will let them go.
So then, in America, the individual rules themself according their inalienable Rights. That is what has been agreed to and consented. WE agree to rule ourselves individualy unless specified for a general purpose in the Constitution. Something I cannot do for myself.

I can get my own Healthcare . It is very available. If the government was the ONLY provider then I would have to come to the government. Then it would be government's Healthcare. AS such I cannot be forced to purchase what is available in the private sector. There is nothing in Healthcare that the government can provide for MY general welfare, that I cannot do for myself.

Being in the Healthcare business is NOT one of the Federal mandates or consents.
They can REGULATE commerce but they cannot Force commerce, even if you must stretch the limits to cheat.

Pretty much wrong on every point.

You don't seem to have grasped what "consent" means.  It's every single individual agreeing to be governed. Not a majority of voters.  Unanimity.   I do not consent to "government" -- it is imposed on me despite my own preferences.   I have never agreed to be bound by what is written in the Constitution or by whatever commands the politicians issue this week  Has anyone?  And if government "derives its just powers from the consent of the governed," then can we conclude that it has NO just powers over those who do not consent to it?  That's my conclusion.

Better study Rose's idea a little more closely.  Consent and government are opposites, and "consent of the governed" is a contradiction in terms.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...